NASACRE receives and responds to many questions from SACREs. Answers are available to subscribing SACREs via the ‘Additional Content’ link below. Note that answers represent NASACRE’s views, which may not be legally binding.
Recruiting SACRE members:
1. How does a local authority (LA) decide who goes in which group of SACRE and does there have to be four groups? How does someone become a member of SACRE?
2. What responsibility do SACRE members have to their sponsoring /nominating body
3. How does a local authority decide which groups should be represented in SACRE Group A?
4. How do we ensure that we have the ‘right’ people at SACRE?
5. Can we appoint Humanists to our SACRE?
6. We now have no councillors on the SACRE. Is there any guidance on how we recruit councillors?
7. Our SACRE is being very particular and bureaucratic about who appoints to SACRE groups and how this is done. There is no guidance that I can find on who within the LA should appoint.
8. We have a number of SACRE vacancies and none of us is sure how to go about sourcing replacements. We’re happy enough to contact the CE / RC dioceses for those reps but beyond those Christian denominations I’m not too sure who to approach. Are we supposed to approach a national body for a particular religion/worldview (e.g. Muslim / Hindu / Sikh) to find new members, or do we approach local places of worship independently? For some of these religions, there are no local places of worship.
1. What makes SACRE quorate? Can we change it and what happens if we are regularly inquorate?
2. Who can be a Chair of SACRE and how are they elected and when? How long does their term of office last?
3. Does a SACRE need a constitution?
4. My SACRE has received a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) asking about the number of schools in our LA with determinations, waiving their obligation to provide a majority of Acts of Collective worship which are wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. How should we respond?
5. I’m one of the co-Chairs of SACRE and we need some advice. The LA is unable to provide us with a Clerk, I was just wondering how other SACREs in the position deal with the situation? So far, my ideas are to buy in a Clerk from another LA or employ a freelance Clerk if one exists. Do you have any guidance on clerking we can use in our meeting with the LA? Does NASACRE have a job description/person specification for the SACRE Clerk?
6. At the last meeting of our SACRE, a point was raised about the voting process for SACREs and if an individual votes against the rest of their ‘group’ this would then veto the vote. Is there any official guidance that you could point me towards so we have clarity on the voting process?
Agreed Syllabus Conference (ASC):
1. How does a local authority appoint an Agreed Syllabus Conference?
2. What does the Agreed Syllabus Conference need to think about when it meets to review a syllabus?
3. What support should an LA give an Agreed Syllabus Conference so that it can review the syllabus?
4. What can an Agreed Syllabus require?
5. We are considering adopting the syllabus prepared by another Agreed Syllabus Conference or buying a syllabus from a company, which produces an agreed syllabus. Are there things that we should consider?
6. When parents decide to home educate their children what is the guidance relating to the content of the RE that should be taught? Are they required to follow the local agreed syllabus, can they choose a syllabus from another authority or is there no guidance and so they can effectively do what they like?
7. The ASC have met and agreed a new Syllabus. My question is who does it need to go to for final sign-off? Is it Cabinet or should it be presented at a full council meeting? I can’t find anything in the legislation which specifies which committee should sign it off…
8. General points to think about in syllabus reviews
9. How long does an agreed syllabus last?
10. What’s the best way to secure funding for an agreed syllabus review?
11. As a local authority, we had embarked on our statutory revision year in July last year, perhaps naively not realising how long the process would take. We have reluctantly made the decision that it is necessary to push back the implementation date from September this year, to September next year, but our LA would like to know if this is acceptable.
1. Is there a central register or list of schools that have been granted a determination to alter their daily act of worship to something other than wholly or mainly Christian?
2. We’re writing up some copy on a school application to be exempted from collective worship sessions. In the SACRE Determination on the application, it is stated that “The legal advisers explained that from the research that they had carried out, which had been based on the example of a specific SACRE and not everywhere, there was no record of any other council making a Determination for no faith or to remove the requirement for collective worship.” Does this refer to the fact that no research outside of that area of has been carried out, or does it mean something else?
3. I am emailing to bring to your attention the recent application for a Determination that was received by SACRE in February this year. Following the procedure SACRE has for receiving applications this was decided upon at the recent SACRE meeting. The decision was to reject the application.
The school is an LA Infants school and the vice chair of the governors the same person who had asked SACRE in 2019 (and I believe other SACREs around the country) about their Determinations policy and process. The distinguishing feature of this application for Determination was that the application was based upon over 60% of the children being of no religion. The Chair and vice Chair of the Governors made a deputation at the beginning of the meeting. The Head and other staff were precluded from being part of the deputation (which may seem curious since the application for the Determination MUST come from the head) since no LA employees are permitted to make deputations to council meetings.
As far as we can see, and our legal advisers could also see, this was the first such application for a Determination on basis of non-religion, in the country. As you can imagine, we have spent a considerable amount of time on this over the last few months, it is probably an interesting case study now for NASACRE to consider and perhaps give advice to other SACREs.
4. I have a query about withdrawal from collective worship. We are clear on the legislation and the school’s responsibility. There is one practical question, however. If a child arrives at school later in the morning session to take advantage of the family right, how is this recorded in the register which closes at 8.55am? If this is entered as an unauthorised absence, it would look as if the pupil was absent every day, or late every day, which has its own penalties. In the same school, I have learned, a third of the pupils don’t attend the termly church service, again by being absent for that session. How should this be recorded on the register and attendance returns?
Right of Withdrawal:
1. I am Head of RE at a Middle School, and have received a request from a parent to have her daughter excused from RE. The reason given is that the child would benefit from extra English, maths and science. There is no mention of religious grounds. The implication in the letter is that I or the school should arrange for this extra tuition.
2. When parents decide to home educate their children what is the guidance relating to the content of the RE that should be taught? Are they required to follow the local agreed syllabus, can the choose a syllabus from another authority or is there no guidance and so they can effectively do what they like?
1. Does NASACRE have any current guidance on Ramadan?
2. When does the annual report for NASACRE have to be completed and should we send it to all the schools in our LA as well?
3. Do you know of anybody who could advise us on the putting together of an advertisement for an Adviser to SACRE?
4. Is there a list of SACREs who run a Youth SACRE? Some of our members were asking about one but not sure as a small unitary authority it would be possible so interested to see who else is doing such.
5. Are SACREs legally required to have a website?
6. Can two unitary councils run one SACRE between them?
7. What is the legal framework for Religious Education in ‘Alternative Provision’ settings such as PRUs?